Fort Lauderdale, FL asked in Products Liability, Real Estate Law, Landlord - Tenant and Small Claims for Florida

Q: Who is responsible for the damage to my bathroom ceiling after upstairs owner neglected to get clogged pipes fixed??

My upstairs neighbor neglected To fix his leak and over the course of six months has been flooding me with poop water. He ruined my Venetian paint with yellow stains. In March he said he will fix it and I have been waiting ever since and today he told me he is only responsible to paint with regular white paint. So he ruins my newly remodeled bathroom and now is refusing to paint it the way it was before he flooded me. I would like to know how that’s possible and where he is getting this information.... all I want is the paint job I had before he flooded me. I am not asking for gold paint.... I only want to fix the yellow stains... and not with regular paint but with how it was before... Venetian. Is he responsible for the Venetian??? Thank you. By the way, the owner doesn’t live there, he rents it out.

2 Lawyer Answers
Terrence H Thorgaard
Terrence H Thorgaard
  • Freeeport, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: He is responsible to paint it the way it was before he damaged it.

A: If you have insurance you should file a claim with your insurance company let them do all the work. If you don't have insurance you will need to bring a legal action against the owner of the unit, not the tenant. Drainage pipes can be tricky because they sometimes service more than one unit and the clog may be in section considered to be a common element and just backs up into the upstairs unit. You would need to have access to the plumbing repair invoice to determine where the clog occurred and who owns that section of pipe (the owner of the upstairs unit or the Association). You will also need to have a condo lawyer to review the Declaration of Condominium and Bylaws to determine the extent of the other unit owner's liability. Association documents routinely have language that makes the Association liable for replacing damaged units to the bare surfaces only, so that may be what the neighbor is basing his claim on, but that doesn't mean that is the extent of his liability. You also have a duty to mitigate your damages, which means you need to get the damaged area cleaned, sanitized and have mold remediation as soon as possible. Legal actions take months, if not years, so any damages you sustain (such as health issues) because you waited for someone else to fix your damages would not be allowed.

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